So…your website is doing great and things seem to be flowing along nicely, then—wham—something happens, but what? You didn’t change anything or see any trends that would indicate a potential problem.
Most people wouldn’t know where to begin looking for answers when this type of scenario plays out. And, unfortunately, this happens more than you think. But don’t blame your digital marketing agency, it’s probably not their SEO services that started all this—it’s your competition.
Well, there is one particularly nasty trick that some of your competitors might be using against you—negative SEO!
Black Hat SEO of Yesteryear
In years past, if you wanted to rank highly in the search engines, all you had to do was perform a little black hat SEO as it was called. This meant using content techniques such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, spam commenting, redirects, or using a private link network and paying for links, etc. But now, if you use any type of black hat SEO of any kind, Google and the other search engines will ban you faster than you can blink. Needless to say, most people or any SEO agency wouldn’t touch black hat marketing of any kind for any reason!
Yep! It’s that serious.
You are probably wondering what is this negative SEO we’ve been talking about…right?
So let’s talk about negative SEO, what it is, how it happens, and to avoid it.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is when a competitor uses unethical techniques such as black hat tactics, etc. to sabotage your rankings in the search engines. So basically, negative SEO is a set of activities designed specifically to lower a competitor’s search engine rankings.
How Negative SEO Attacks Happen and What to Do About Them
There really isn’t anything you can do to completely prevent negative SEO from happening, but what you can do is to have systems in place to recognize them as they are happening. And if you spot them early enough in the process, it will be easier to reverse the damage.
Here are a few of the most commonly used negative SEO attack tactics.
1. Hundreds or thousands of links over a short period of time.
➣ What to do about it:
Regularly monitor the growth of your link profile. You can do this by using an online website backlink checker tool such as SEO SpyGlass, or better yet, have a digital marketing agency do it for you. Using a professional who has the time and knows exactly what to look for could ultimately save you from a disaster that if not caught early enough could significantly affect your rankings potentially for a very long time.
2. Stolen content.
A competitor might be scraping your content and copying it to other websites around the internet to make it look like duplicate content. Google is privy to this technique; however, scrapers search specifically for new content and immediately repost it all over the web before the search engines get a chance to crawl it. This makes it look like their version was the original and yours is the duplicate content.
➣ What to do about it:
Invest in a tool called Copyscape. This is a simple and inexpensive tool you can use to see if your content is being posted anywhere else on the web. You just insert your content or website and Copyscape will return any results if your content has been published anywhere else and who published it. If it has been used, contact their webmaster and ask them to remove it. And if they don’t remove it, you can always use the Google Online Copyright Infringement form to report it.
You could also use a Web monitoring app such as Awario. This website is a social media and Web monitoring app that searches for scraped versions of your content.
This is when someone changes your web pages and redirects them to theirs. By doing this they send your website visitors to their website instead of yours. Redirects can be easily inserted anywhere into your website files or database.
➣ What to do about it:
There are a number of free online tools such as Redirect Detective that will follow the path of a redirect to see where it goes if you want to know. However, it will be up to you to find the malicious code and remove it. Alternatively, you could contact an SEO services company to do it for you.
These are the top three most common negative SEO website attack tactics. But, of course, there are many, many more. We have listed a few more for you to watch out for below.
Other Negative SEO Tactics to Watch Out For
Here are a few other ways negative SEO can happen.
4. Your website is hacked and the content is modified.
5. Hundreds or thousands of spam links were linked to your website.
6. Forceful crawling (using different IP addresses to overload a server, which crashes a website so the Googlebot can’t access it).
7. Building links and pointing them to your website using keywords such as Viagra, gambling, payday loans, etc.
8. Creating fake social media profiles designed to damage your reputation with fake reviews.
9. Removing your websites best backlinks.
➣ What to do about Low-Quality Links:
If you think your website has been attacked using negative SEO and you want to remove all low-quality links, Google has a Disavow Tool you can use to ask them not to count those links.
The Bottom Line
You can help protect yourself from negative SEO by watching your Google Analytics for a sudden drop in traffic, setting up your Google Webmaster Tools email alerts for things like malware attacks, pages not indexed, server connectivity problems, and to notify you if you get a manual penalty from Google. However, hiring an SEO agency to closely monitor your website for you will probably give you the quickest results. Because a professional who knows what to look for is more likely to be able to catch and correct issues before they get too far out of hand.
If you would like more information about negative SEO and how to catch and correct it, please Contact Us today. We’d love to help you save your bacon—literally!